My Blog

Posts for: December, 2013

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 23, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   bleeding gums  
DontIgnoreBleedingGums-ASignofTroubleAhead

Ninety percent of people have noticed bleeding from their gums when they brush or floss their teeth at some time or other. You may wonder if this is a result of brushing too hard — but that's not usually the case.

If your gums don't hurt — even if they bleed easily — you may think the bleeding is normal, nothing to worry about, or you're brushing too hard.

Bleeding from your gums is not normal!

It is an early warning sign of gum disease. In fact ten percent of those who start with bleeding gums go on to develop serious periodontal disease affecting the support for the teeth leading to tooth loss.

Then why do my gums bleed?

The way you brush your teeth is indeed a factor! Bacteria that normally reside in the mouth (in fact you need them to stay healthy) collect along the gum line in a biofilm. When the biofilm is not removed effectively on a daily basis, over time the gums become inflamed and bleed when touched. Other signs of inflamed gums — gingivitis — are redness and swelling, and even recession.

SO — the problem is not that you are brushing too hard, but that you are not brushing and/or flossing effectively. Both are important.

Three ways to stop bleeding gums before they lead to serious problems

  1. It all starts with brushing your teeth correctly at the gum line. Use a soft multi-tufted toothbrush. Hold it in the gum line and wiggle it gently until the tooth surfaces feel clean to your tongue — just like when you've had a professional cleaning. It doesn't take force, be gentle.
  2. It's just as important to remove biofilm from between the teeth where the toothbrush won't reach. If you are having difficulty flossing, we've got some easy demonstrations and instructional tips.
  3. Remember, as we say, “It's not the brush, it's the hand that holds it.”

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bleeding gums. Bring your toothbrush and floss with you to our office and ask us to demonstrate proper oral hygiene techniques. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums: A very important warning sign of gum disease.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 20, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: fluoride  
BeAwareofYourFamilysFluorideIntaketoAvoidStaining

It’s indisputable that fluoride has revolutionized dental care. Decades of research have overwhelming shown this natural, enamel-strengthening chemical has decreased tooth decay.

Too much fluoride, though, can cause enamel fluorosis, a permanent staining of tooth enamel. In its mildest form, the teeth develop faint whitish streaks; in more severe cases, the staining is noticeably darker and the teeth appear pitted. The teeth themselves aren’t damaged, but the unsightly staining could require cosmetic treatment. Children under age 9 (when permanent teeth enamel matures) are especially at risk of fluorosis due to over-fluoridation.

Because of fluoride’s prevalence in hygiene products and many drinking water supplies, it’s not always easy to know if your child is receiving too much. There are two areas, though, that bear watching.

First, you should limit the serving quantity of fluoride hygiene products, particularly toothpaste. Children tend to swallow rather than spit out toothpaste after brushing, so they ingest more fluoride. We recommend a small “smear” of toothpaste on the brush for children under two, and a pea-sized amount for children two to four.

The other concern is your drinking water. Three-quarters of America’s water systems add fluoride, usually to a recommended level of 0.70 PPM (parts per million). To know if your water supply adds fluoride and at what levels, you can contact your local water utility or health department, or check the Center for Disease Control’s website for their “My Water’s Fluoride” program (http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp). This site will have information if your water system participates in the program.

If your area exceeds recommended levels or is at high risk for fluorosis, we recommend reducing the use of tap water in infant formula. Besides breast-feeding (human breast milk is low in fluoride), you can use either ready-to-feed formula, or mix powdered formula with water specifically labeled “de-ionized,” “purified,” “de-mineralized,” or “distilled.”

One thing you should not do is eliminate your use of products containing fluoride — this may increase your child’s risk of tooth decay. The consequences of decay can be serious and have a life-long effect — and far outweigh the risks of fluorosis staining.

If you would like more information on fluoride and your infant, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Development and Infant Formula.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 12, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
HowDoILookAfterMyNewPorcelainVeneers

You've just had porcelain laminate veneers placed on your teeth to improve their appearance, color and shape. Now what? How do you maintain them and keep them looking their best?

A dental porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that is bonded to a tooth, replacing the enamel (the outermost layer of a tooth). Dental porcelain is a glass-like substance that can be used to mimic natural tooth enamel perfectly because of its bright, reflective and translucent (see-through) qualities.

To look after your veneers, it is important to maintain the health of the teeth on which they were placed, and of the surrounding gums.

  • About a week after your veneers have been placed, return to our office so that we can check them to make sure they are functioning well.
  • Brush and floss regularly using non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste; make sure you remove biofilm, the film of bacteria that collects on the teeth, every day. Flossing or brushing will not harm your veneers.
  • We recommend regular dental checkups to review the state of your veneers and your dental health in general.

Porcelain is a ceramic glass-like material, and like glass it is strong but brittle and can fracture when placed under too much stress.

  • You can eat almost all foods without harming your veneers, but avoid biting into hard things like candy apples.
  • Many people habitually grind or clench their teeth. If you are one of them, let us know. We can make a protective bite guard that you can wear to reduce stress placed on your teeth (and your veneers) while you sleep.

With good dental hygiene, and regular dental check-ups porcelain veneers can last from seven to twenty years or even longer. This makes them a good solution that will improve your smile for years to come.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about porcelain laminate veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced with Porcelain Veneers.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 04, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: orthodontics  
StraighteningTeethcanLeadtoaBetterSmileandBetterOralHealth

The perception that orthodontics is mainly for children or teenagers is changing rapidly. The number of adults seeking treatment for misaligned teeth is on the rise, especially with the development of less intrusive treatments like clear aligners.

Still, as an adult you may be wondering if having your teeth straightened is really worth the effort. There are good reasons to consider orthodontic treatment even when your teen years are well in your rear view mirror — and improving your smile is only just one of them.

To be sure, smile enhancement is an important reason. We place a high value on presenting our best appearance; indeed, our self-assurance and esteem suffers if we feel we have a less than pleasing smile. Adults who improve their smiles through orthodontics typically see a rise in confidence and an improvement in life attitudes that can have a positive impact on their social, career and financial development.

But there is another reason: as a general rule, misaligned teeth do not function as well. Biting, chewing and speaking may be more difficult. Over the long-term misaligned teeth and the resulting poor bite can have an adverse effect on nutrition, social skills and normal tooth wear.

What's more, misaligned teeth are more difficult to clean even with conscientious daily hygiene. Despite your best efforts, this can lead to increased plaque that causes tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. In regard to gums, misaligned teeth may be more prone to receding gums which further exposes teeth to harmful bacteria. Realigning teeth can vastly improve dental hygiene.

As with considering any dental procedure, the first step is a complete dental examination to measure the level of misalignment, as well as the current health of your teeth and gums. After that, we can discuss your orthodontic options for not only correcting your smile, but improving your oral hygiene which can have a pronounced improvement in your oral health as well.

If you would like more information on the benefits of orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Why Straighten Teeth.”